Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Anime Year in Review - The Top 10

After long and careful consideration, there was only one show that I could place at the top of the list for 2011.  So without further ado, the #1 one ranked series for 2011 is:

Blood-C!

No, just kidding….

#1: Ikoku Meiro no Croisee
[Buny]_Ikoku_Meiro_no_Croisée_-_04.5v2_[x264][288p][CF4C65E7].mkv_snapshot_18.35_[2011.08.26_20.15.59] [Buny]_Ikoku_Meiro_no_Croisée_-_04.5v2_[x264][288p][CF4C65E7].mkv_snapshot_02.27_[2011.08.26_19.57.52] [Nemui] Ikoku Meiro no Croisee - 12 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_23.36_[2011.09.19_13.28.57]

Fundamentally, lists like these are always personal choices.  What we’re choosing isn’t the “best” anime (or movie, or album) but our favorite.  Anything else is subjective, and while I’ve mulled over whether this series might be the objective ‘best” of 2011 there’s no question Ikoku Meiro is the series I loved the most.  There were two anime this year that I felt totally connected with me, as if they were written specifically for my particular makeup – this one and Colorful, the best anime movie of the year.  AnoHana came close, but I think it’s appeal is a little broader than this series’ – which is certainly reflected in the sales.  It has nothing to apologize for, and I love it dearly – but Ikoku Meiro is the show closest to my heart.

The last show that packed the kind of emotional wallop that the top two series of 2011 did was Cross Game.  I don’t mean to imply that Ikoku Meiro or AnoHana are as good as CG – they’re not, in my view – but It had the luxury of 50 glorious episodes to weave it’s magical tale in pure Adachi fashion.  And AnoHana, though only 11 episodes, told a complete and self-contained story.  This one is only a small piece of the larger story the manga tells, and thus it perhaps isn’t as momentous an achievement, but in my view Satelight have created something absolutely magical here.  I see the term “labor of love” tossed around a lot, but it really applies to the job this Franco-Japanese studio, director Yasuda Kenji and writer Satou Junichi did with this adaptation of Takeda Hinata’s manga.  Every detail is carefully planned, right down to the layout of the Galerie du Roy (actually modeled after a 19th-Century shopping gallery still existing in Brussels) and the placement of every piece of furniture and knick-knack in the shop and apartments of Claude and Oscar Claudel.

In the last two years, only this show and Sarai-ya Goyou have explored human relationships with as much subtlety and depth.  I’m not angry at those who dismissed this as “the French loli show” but I am sad for them, because there’s so, so much more to this series than how cute Yune is.  She, Claude and Oscar are incredibly complex and fascinating characters, and watching their connection grow over 12 episodes was my greatest anime pleasure this year (along with the entire plot of Colorful).  There was astute commentary about the difference between the Japanese and European way of thinking, and virtually peerless – in anime, anyway – reflection on the class system as it existed (and still exists to some extent) in Europe.  Best of all was the complexity of the relationship between Yune and Claude, and the way Oscar subtly used his almost mystical knowledge of human nature to gently guide them.  All three would be be on my shortlist for best character of 2011, and the supporting cast is worthwhile as well.  Alice was an acquired taste and the weakest character in the series, in my view, but she did prove essential and even more importantly was the vehicle to bring older sister Camille into the story.  With Camille came an entirely new level of emotional entanglement and social commentary.

I can’t discuss La Croisée dans un labyrinthe étranger without talking about the magnificent soundtrack, easily my favorite of 2011.  The OP and ED are wonderful, and the BGM is both period and culturally appropriate.  And the selection of songs from the BD extra episode 4.5 (absolutely essential to understanding the characters and a superb piece of writing), including Japanese traditional music and my favorite anime song of the year, the original “Tooku Kimi he”, is superb.  And check out the Picasa page of animator Thomas Romain to see some of the attention and affection that went into rendering 19th-Century Paris with such exquisite detail.  It all adds up to a transformative experience, bringing you to another place and time and immersing you in the emotional world of the three leads.  Compared to some great series Ikoku Meiro is a humble show, a modest story about the everyday lives of common people, but everything about it is exceptional.  Without a doubt, Ikoku Meiro is my #1 anime series for 2011.

#2: Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai
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There were three series and three only that made me cry in 2011, and AnoHana was the only one that made me cry more than once.  The show as an emotional powerhouse from the starting bell, and never let up for an instant until the final frame. It’s hard to believe anyone could get so much character development crammed into NoitaminA’s 11-episode format, but writer Okada Mari (who holds down two of the top four spots of the year, yet still drives me crazy) and director Nagai Tatsuyuki did just that.  There are reports that Nagai and A-1 Pictures stopped Okada-san from writing a very different story, one full of ecchi and fanservice moments – I don’t know to what extent that’s true, but to be honest I really don’t care.  The finished product is what it is, and it’s a great show.

What stands out for me about this series is that not a moment was wasted, and there wasn’t a mediocre episode in the entire run.  The series was built around six teenagers, and they were all remarkably well-developed by the second episode.  You just don’t see the kind of subtlety and complexity in character construction that you saw here very often – these were fascinating kids, all a stark contrast with each other, yet drawn together by a tragedy that will, stay with them forever.  This was basically a slice-of-life drama played out through a magical realism scenario, and whether she was pushed into it or not, the style suited Okada perfectly.  AnoHana is an unapologetically emotional and dramatic show, never afraid to bare the souls of its characters and dig very deep into what makes them hurt.  Yet ultimately, I think it’s a hopeful and optimistic show, and I think each of the characters is better off for the painful journey they take in the series.

I was gratified and frankly very surprised to see this show prove as popular as it did, possibly the second best-selling series of 2011 after Madoka Magica.  Though the series revolves around teenagers I don’t really see it as commercial story – there’s not much romance, and almost no fanservice. It’s just a lot of dramatic heavy lifting, without much in the way of shortcuts and instant gratification. I love all the cast, especially “beaten dog” Jintan, who’s pain has turned him from a confident and charismatic child into a quiet and reclusive young man. All six members of the Super Peace Busters fit together like an emotional jigsaw puzzle, unable to be complete without the others, and not even death or the end of childhood can truly dissolve their bonds.  It all adds up to an amazingly powerful story, one of the most dramatic anime in years, helped along by the superb cast (including a reunion of the three leads from Cross Game, the last great emotional powerhouse anime before this one) and a terrific soundtrack – including the peerless ED version of the Japanese classic “Secret Base”.  If you haven’t seen it, watch it – but be prepared for an emotional barrage pretty much every episode.

#3: Steins;Gate
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In reality I could have made a strong case for any of the top three shows as the best of the season, and Steins;Gate is certainly no exception.  It’s probably the most accomplished series of the year, when you factor in the complexity of the enterprise and all aspects of the production.  The fact that White Fox was able to take a VN and turn it into a 24-episode anime that both anime-only viewers and VN enthusiasts (who were both numerous and fanatical) could enjoy was a remarkable achievement.  This is a twisting, elaborate rat’s maze of a story that was made both suspenseful and approachable for the first-time viewer, and I give much of the credit to brilliant screenwriter Hanada Jukki.

As befits such a high-ranking series, there isn’t much not to like.  Visuals were superb, pacing was top-notch and the cast was among the best ensembles of the year.  I found the dialogue in S;G to be remarkably good, funny and clever but also possessed of a snappy rhythm that felt like something that came out of Hollywood in the 1940’s.  Having  visited many of the series locales in Akihabara I especially enjoyed the accuracy with which they were portrayed on-screen.  This may be the best otaku series ever, both for the affectionate but not sentimental portrayal of those who share that passion and for the way those pursuits are seamlessly integrated into the story.

I think this is a show that’s going to stand the test of time and become an anime standard, both because of its high quality and broad appeal.  No other series generated such interesting debates and discussions, and White Fox did a perfect job teasing the story without frustrating the audience.  It featured one of the most engaging romances of the year despite not being a romance, a great catch phrase (“Tuturu!”) and some of the most hilarious scenes in recent memory.  Yet it could also be harrowing, disturbing and heartbreakingly sad.  As always, the secret is that the show is totally grounded in the characters – they drive everything that happens and the fact that we care so much about them gives the story its punch.  Okabe Rintarou (brilliantly played by Miyano Mamoru) may be the best character of the year – he’s in the running for sure – and his very different but equally compelling relationships with Kurisu and Mayuri formed the heart of the drama.  The supporting cast was fantastic as well, even relatively minor players rising above the level of plot devices.  It’s a terrific series, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what White Fox does with the franchise from here, starting with the movie in 2012.  El Psy Congroo.

#4: Hourou Musuko
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I knew from the very beginning that this series was going to be something special, as it had probably the finest first episode of any 2011 series.  And Hourou Musuko was always aware of the urgency of its situation, with a manga approaching 100 chapters and only 11 episodes to work with.  Possibly the most important decision AIC made with Hourou Musuko was one of the very first they made – to adapt only a fairly narrow section of the manga and not try for a comprehensive re-telling.  That they were able to perfectly capture the feel and tone of the source material is a testament to the skill of director Aoki Ei (who had a terrific 2011) and writer Okada Mari.

It must be pointed out that much credit for how great this show is should fall to mangaka Shimura Takako.  Still, AIC really nailed it – starting with a terrific cast led by 14 year-old Hatakeyama Kosuke as Nitorin.  This is about as good as school life anime gets, creating a real sense of danger for its characters as they wade through the minefield of adolescence and middle school.  While the main characters certainly have uncommon problems – Nitori Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl and Takatsuki Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy – their emotions are universal and so is their pain.  The cast is full of complex and fascinating characters who feel solid and real.  I was also impressed by the delicate, watercolor look of the art and the outstanding soundtrack.  I wish the series had been much longer but frankly, it’s a miracle that it was made it all, and that it managed to communicate the beauty and poignancy of the manga as well as it did.

#5: Usagi Drop
[HorribleSubs] Usagi Drop - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.28_[2011.07.14_16.27.33] [HorribleSubs] Usagi Drop - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_11.10_[2011.08.11_15.46.19] [HorribleSubs] Usagi Drop - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.07_[2011.09.01_13.06.12]

Usagi Drop was, in a word, terrific.  Setting aside all controversy surrounding the manga – and I think every anime should be judged on its own merits – Usagi Drop was a smart, sensitive and funny look at a relatively underrepresented figure in anime, the Dad.  And while Rin was undeniably adorable and an amazing child, I really see this as Daikichi’s story.  He’s GAR in a subtle way very few characters are, and in my view one of the best characters of 2011.  I also loved Rin’s mischievous friend Kouki, who added a great sense of fun and randomness to the show.  Full kudos to Production I.G. for a great job here – the series has an understated but lovely look, and they made many wise choices in this adaptation, not least of which was casting real children as Rin and Kouki.  With material this emotional there was always a risk of the series becoming manipulative, but I.G. showed admirable restraint with this adaptation and the show as at its best tackling the complications of routine, everyday life.

#6: Mawaru Penguin Drum
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Maddening, infuriating, fascinating, stunningly beautiful, elegiac and ultimately disappointing – I can only call Mawaru Penguin Drum a work of deeply flawed genius.  It was hard work to watch this show, but no other series in recent memory was so deep in symbolism and intricate of plot.  Ikuhara definitely tried to do too much here, and frankly he failed to totally bring it all together in the end.  But despite that, I think about this show as much as any from 2011.  It was relentlessly creative, occasionally very funny and found some real emotional power in the last few episodes.  I hope the wait for the next Ikuhara series is shorter than the last one.

#7: Working’!!
[HorribleSubs] Working!! - 05 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.08_[2011.10.29_11.59.39] [HorribleSubs] Working!! - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.26_[2011.11.05_19.48.56] [Raws-4U] WORKING'!! 第13話(終) 「13品目 「さよならぽぷら」」 (MX 1280x720 x264).mp4_snapshot_20.24_[2011.12.24_21.36.24]

I’ve already slaughtered a lot of words talking about Working in the last 24 hours, having just completed my finale and series reviews for it, so you can always check those out for more detail about why I love this show so much.  It actually ended up one spot higher than on last year’s list, but it’s a great victory that it made it at all.  Not only was this a sequel, but it didn’t have the comforting familiarity of a completely unchanged staff like Mitsudomoe did.  But as a whole the show didn’t miss a bit – the second half of this season was much better than the first, but the overall quality was just about on-par with the first season.  If fortune smiles on us, perhaps we’ll be seeing Working’!@# – or whatever pointless punctuation marks they cram into the title – on the 2012 list, thought I suspect it’s more likely we’ll see the third season in 2013.

#8: Kamisama Dolls
[HorribleSubs] Kamisama Dolls - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.36_[2011.08.30_20.11.12] [HorribleSubs] Kamisama Dolls - 10 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.21_[2011.09.06_20.19.00] [HorribleSubs] Kamisama Dolls - 13 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.10_[2011.09.27_20.12.30]

This is very much a personal choice, I admit.  But this is my list, and I love KamiDolls.  This is a show that does a little of everything, and does it well.  There's a timeless quality to KamiDolls – it’s a series that would have felt perfectly at home in 1990 or 2000, and it’s the sort of series that made me love anime in the first place.  A little sci-fi, a little comedy, a little sex, and above all a really smart and intricate premise to support the entire structure. 

This was another series that started off pleasantly enough, but without giving too many hints about how great it was going to be.  It could always surprise – surprisingly violent, surprisingly deep, surprisingly subtle.  The seventh episode was the most striking, arguably the best anime episode of 2011, a melancholy and powerful flashback that revealed just how corrupt and venal the true nature of Karakami village was.  Things were never as simple as good vs. evil here – the line between villain and victim was always shifting, as characters like Aki and Mahiru proved themselves to be a product of the village’s sick belief system.  Kyouhei was a refreshing lead – a young adult with real young adult problems –and the supporting cast was terrific.  There was a bit too much fixation on Utao as a moeblob at times, but generally speaking this was a briskly-paced and always entertaining series that was full of good directorial choices by Seiji Kishi.  I loved the slightly retro but still polished animation style, and the panache and creativity that went into the OP and ED.  It was just a class effort all the way, another winner from probably the hottest studio in the business, Brain’s Base.  KamiDolls in just plan good anime, and one of my favorite series of 2011.


#9: Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu
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While 2011 has been about average on the whole, I think it’s been a slightly down year for comedy after a stellar 2010.  Shinryaku Ika Musume has been excellent but just a tick below last year, and Baka Test went from a classic to an outright disaster.  But Mitsudomoe, despite the handicap of being given only 8 episodes to work with, managed to produce another season of hilariously inappropriate comedic gems. 

Starting off with an inspired full-length “Baka Rangers” super sentai send-up complete with OP and ED, comedic genius Ohta-sensei frantically packed 13 episodes worth of hilarity into the shortened season.  The highlight for me was the “Titanic” spoof with Hitoha at the water park, but there were many more hits than misses.  Like Working, Mitsudomoe succeeds in using a wide variety of comedic styles because all of them are grounded in the character, and both the Marui triplets and the large supporting cast are top-shelf.  I love this series, Working, and Ika Musume in different ways, but the fact is that Mitsudomoe simply delivers more huge laughs per-minute than any other series in the last couple of years.  I always wonder why this show isn’t more popular – perhaps it’s the lack of any teenaged females, or maybe it’s just too dark to fit most viewers ideas of what a comedy should be.  But I’ve always felt this was a show that found the sweet spot between nastiness and genuine affection for its characters, for all the abuse they take.


#10: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
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I’ll be be honest – there are probably more than 10 series I enjoyed more than this one from 2011.  And I think it’s a perfect example of how a series can be very good and still be extremely overrated.  Nevertheless, this is a hugely important show, for all its faults it was damn good, and it just wouldn’t have  felt right leaving it off the list.

Everything about Madoka Magica was larger than life, right down to the timing of the finale – the 10th episode of the series aired on 3/10/11.  With the delay – blamed on the earthquake but more likely the usual SHAFT production delays – the hype and myth around the final two episodes grew to ridiculous proportions.  Whether you feel they – or the series – lived up to that is almost irrelevant.  It says something about Urobuchi Gen’s status as a writer that Shinbo was very much a secondary figure with this show, and I actually think that’s good, for Shinbo is at his best when he’s working with a writer whose strong and individual style tempers his own St. Vitus Dance of a creative style.  There was always something to argue about with this series, and it was chock full of big ideas as it turned the Mahou Shoujo genre on its ear with a relentlessly dark and despairing storyline.  In the end I think for all the intellectual density it never quite came together, and the ending was muddled and had a slightly artificial tinge to it.  But how many other anime can say they gave birth to a religion?  In the final analysis this may end up being the most widely-debated series – and ending – since Evangelion.

And by the way – Kyubey is still eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil.


Honorable Mention: R-15
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Though it didn’t quite make my top 10 for the year, I couldn’t let the opportunity to plug this show one last time – I really think it’s in a special category.  It’s both the most underrated and most surprising show of 2011 in my opinion, and it’s one I really didn’t expect to like nearly as much as I did.  The concept seems extremely low-brow – a genius 15 year-old porn writers attends a school for prodigies in all fields – the animation is low-rent, and the cast is mostly unknown.  But once I started watching it I was shocked to find that R-15 is unabashedly sweet, good-hearted and believe it or not, deep.  There’s a lot happening here – a very compelling love triangle, astute commentary on the competing sides of human nature (love vs. lust) and some very clever situation comedy.  Yes it’s raunchy and campy and absurdly censored in its TV form (if by some miracle this persuades you to watch it, please watch the Blu-ray editions) but it’s one of the most likable shows of the year.

81 comments:

  1. Don't worry though I dropped this show mid way, once the BS ray version is out, I'm gonna watch it again.

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  2. It's out! The first few volumes anyway.

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  3. Wow... I'm surprised R-15 made it to your top 10.
    This is probably one of AIC's most under-appreciated series and a pretty good one at that.

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  4. well give i'm also like r-15 anime give quite ok series.

    give the thing seiyu casting were bit trying to help develop newer generation voices give look casting they got http://myanimelist.net/anime/10611/R-15/characters most them were newer up-coming with few roles.

    yet it develop them give rise for the future of seiyu voicing.

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  5. I agree, Anon. They were a little rough but I like seeing new seiyuu get a chance.

    Seishun, not quite the top 10, but a special mention.

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  6. I'm glad you got R-15. It didnt make it to my top 10 anime of 2011, but it was a contender. What do you reckon? in ascending order (from nr 10-1).

    No. 6
    Fate/ Zero
    Mawaru-Penguindrum
    Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai
    Ben-To
    Chihaya
    Deadman Wonderland
    Mirai Nikki
    Usagi Drop
    Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai
    Stein's gate

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  7. Sorry, that's 11-to 1. No.6 Got the honorable mention here because... Well, first of all, it was a really good story. But. For such wild and completely bat-shit crazy creations that are pouring out of Japan, a story about gay love in a mainstream anime was apparently worthy of kilometers of comment discussion and split the community in two (in comparison, child porn is mainstream). One section opted to be completely blind for the bromance here, claiming there was none, and the others went apeshit crazy about it. I enjoyed the evolution of comments here almost as much as the show.

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  8. I hope to see Level E in the TOP 10.

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  9. Well, most of the time R-15 didn't make much sense, wasn't very coherent. And the love interest, I cannot call her female lead, had almost as little personality as Everything That Makes Her Whore. Other than those you are absolutely right. It also was so honest and heartful. The chorus scene was like the most hilarious thing I ever watched. And in that regard they were so similar, that R-15 was pretty much this year's MM! Which I am rewatching nowadays.
    Don't we just KNOW how to love things pretentious western fans hate?

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  10. Stot, I wouldn't include Mirai Nikki or Chihayafuru as they're not finished. As for the rest of your list, I won't steal my own thunder but you've certainly got some good series on there.

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  11. ya give mirai will continue over new year so maybe next year it might be mention.

    yea wonder what top 10 are give anime i seen this year were give mention r-15 are

    a-channel
    Aria the Scarlet Ammo (give waiting on s2 cause whole mom with long jail sentence still bother me)
    ben-to
    blood-c
    c3
    A Dark Rabbit Has Seven Lives
    dog days
    Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera (ayako-mamiko yuri lesbian kiss oh YEAH)
    mirai nikki
    Kaitō Tenshi Twin Angel paradise
    Kamisama Dolls
    Maji de Watashi ni Koishinasai!
    maken-ki
    Manyū Hiken-chō
    x-men anime
    mayo chiki
    Nekogami Yaoyorozu
    Oniichan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!!
    Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai
    rio rainbow gate
    ro-kyu-bu
    sengoku otome
    squid girl s2
    yuru yuri

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  12. @Anonymous

    & oh also seen freezing anime as well this yea such a KLAC i am.

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  13. Oh. Is this updating once a day? I hope Tiger & Bunny is on your top ten, because it's definitely my favorite of this year.

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  14. @ShuffleAir
    To quote River Song: "Spoilers!"

    Of course, every time River says that I want to strangle her, so maybe I should shut up...

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  15. Puella Magi? really? I lost sight of that one because of the massive anticlimax there around episode 3-4. I clearly made a hugh error there, gonna watch it over the holidays. thanks Enzo.

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  16. I'm guessing either Anohana or S;G would be your number 1 :)

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  17. ^I think we're going to see four of slice of life anime in the top five (Ikoku, AnoHana, Hourou, Usagi) with Steins;Gate being the combo breaker. :p

    I'm wondering whether or not Penguindrum made the top ten.

    As for Mitsudomoe of the five comedy sequels this year (Working, Gintama, BakaTest, Ika Musume and Mitsudomoe) I would rate Mitsudomoe the second best with Gintama being better.

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  18. Alright, here is my guess for your top 8: Ikoku Meiro (#1), Hourou Musuko, AnoHana, Steins;Gate, Tiger&Bunny, Mashiro-iro Symphony, Usagi Drop, Mawaru Penguindrum. If I've learned anything from reading your posts is that you value characters and their interactions higher than anything else. No need to tell me if I got close, though; let's keep the mystery!

    As for comedies, I feel Level E and Nichijou deserve mentioning. The first because of its brilliance and the latter because of the pure hilarity of the randomness and ablolutely gorgeous visuals and animation. Level E trolled its viewers like no other comedy but it did so in a way that it had me laughing with them. Nichijou's humour was more hit-and-miss but managed to make up for it with some heartfelt emotional bits in its second half.

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  19. "While 2011 has been about average on the whole, I think it’s been a slightly down year for comedy after a stellar 2010. Shinryaku Ika Musume has been excellent but just a tick below last year, and Baka Test went from a classic to an outright disaster."

    Ok, comedies 2011. Where is Dororon Enma-kun Meramera? Where is Yondemasuyo, Azazel-san? They just sucked, or did you ignore them hence the letdown?

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  20. I don't know how you can say this year was down on comedies when there was Nichijou. That alone... My stomach still hurts from laughing too hard because of it.

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  21. I like Dororon a lot -I blogged it. Yondemasu wasn't on the same level for me, though it had its moments.

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  22. You know, when reading other blog's top ten, I fully expect the number one to be either Madoka, Steins;Gate, AnoHana or Penguindrum.

    HOWEVER, from what I remember reading on this blog, your 2010 top ten and what you have so far, you seem to have unconventional anime tastes and I look forward to seeing what you've labelled as number one this year.

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  23. Thanks, Spinarakk - I take that as a compliment.

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  24. Agreed. Comedy is hard because it's difficult to find something that is universally funny. There are many who thought Nichijou was a good laugh but it didn't work for me at all (not one bit), and while many shunned Sora no Otoshimono for its crude ecchi humor, I thought it was comedy gold. So to each his own definitely applies here.

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  25. oh Kamisama Dolls is in top 10

    give watch it really give sorta late watch in summer give ok give part of whole breakout year of Ai Kayano who did hibino aka big doobi female lead.

    give ok series wonder pull s2 give how it all goes really it got to happen.

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  26. My predictions for the rest of your list:p
    1)Ikoku Meiro
    2)Anohana
    3)Steins Gate
    4)Hourou Musuko
    5)Usagi Drop

    Mirai Nikki and Chihayafuru would probably have broken into your top 5 if they had finished airing in 2011:D

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  27. I don't think Mirai Nikki would have made the top 5, though it probably would have made the 10. Chihayafuru would have been right there, for sure.

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  28. My suspicions are much like the above anon's. Going for the quiet, character-based dramas? You are much too predictable. (And have way too much good taste.)

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  29. Hmm ... no one has suggested Un-Go as a possibility for Enzo's top 5 list. Wonder why?

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  30. Aah what a pleasant show Usagi Drop was, glad to see it made the top 10 list. The show I'd like to see on Enzo's top 10 list is Mashiro Iro Symphony but suppose I'll find out soon enough!

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  31. Interesting bottom tier top 5 list. Usagi Drop and Mawaru Penguindrum was expected, but I didn't know you didn't like Madoka Magica much. Ah well... taste's are different :p.

    I never watched Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu so I have no idea what's it's like. I wasn't very fond of Working S1 so I never watched S2 (seemed like ur typical moe slice of life comedy to me) and Kamisama Dolls... well Seiji Kishi enough said (Hint: I really really hate this guy).

    I actually have a top 12 coming up. Was a bit hard to squeeze in only 10 since many of the bottom tier top 10 I had trouble deciding.

    7. Hanasaku Iroha
    8. Ano Hana
    9. Un-go
    10. Mawaru Penguindrum
    11. Chihayafuru
    12. Fate Zero

    Oh btw, in case you haven't realised, my alternative online handles are acejem/DemiSoda,

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  32. I guess your loyal readers pretty much know what to expect in the top 5. The question is which of them would get the top spot? :)
    2011 has been a pretty good year for animes but it's impossible for me to rank them accordingly since the portfolio is quite diverse. My favorites are Fate/Zero, Steins;Gate, The IDOLM@STER, Anohana, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, Working!!, Tiger & Bunny, Kami-sama Dolls, Usagi Drop, Moshidora, LEVEL E, Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu!, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon and Infinite Stratos

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  33. Demisoda, I would not say I didn't like Madoka Magica much -it made my list! As I watched about 60 series this year, that's pretty good...

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  34. Ah ok, sorry my bad. Think I watched and finished half of what you did. Apologies :p

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  35. Anon (among other anons) mentioned that UN-GO will make it to your top list. I agree! I love reading your blog posts about UN-GO (though I'm just another silent reader...)

    And, quite surprised to see KamiDolls in the top 10 list. It's also one my fav of the year - I never once skipped the OP - love the song and the animation. (I for one, was actually glad that Madoka is not your #1 :p)

    Izumi

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  36. Un-Go may do so, and Mashiro Iro is another possibility, methinks.

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  37. Heh, I love having a little suspense...

    Let me just say, there were some some tough choices about what to include. I do plan on running down 11-20 when we're done.

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  38. I kinda know what the top 4, though not the exact order:

    Ikoku Meiro
    Steins Gate
    Ano Hana
    Hourou Musuko

    If I had to guess:

    1. Steins Gate
    2. Ano Hana
    3. Hourou Musuko
    4. Ikoku Meiro

    :p

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  39. Props to you for putting a R-15 mention.

    I'll love to list my top 10 but well...................IDK, I just don't do those.... sorry.

    ANYWAY, I like your honest opinions of the top ten list, particularly about Puella Madoka and the fact that I agree with most of your opinions about it. Whether others may or may not agree it is up to them, but I certainly will support you.

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  40. Muwahahahah ... I knew it ... Mousoko takes the #4 slot.

    Hmm ... Steins Gate, Ikoku Meiro and Ano Hana seem the ones left to duke it out....

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  41. If you Anons want to claim credit for good guesses, you really need to start identifying yourselves!

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  42. Nay my good sir, nay ... I prefer to continue to lurk in the shadows. After all, as the old adage goes: "Only the shadow knows!" *cue dramatic music*

    No?

    Okay, okay ... going silent now.

    BTW Enzo, if you have not guessed who this is by now I will be surprised. ;)

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  43. Guesses for your top 20:

    Well, I expect to see Gosick, Hanasaku Iroha, Dantalian, and Level E there--these were series that, at their best, were among the best this year had to offer, but were a little (a lot) too inconsistent to make the top 10. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Tiger and Bunny, Deadman Wonderland, Un-Go, or Haganai there, but I haven't watched any of these so I refuse to comment, except to say that three of them are on my to-watch list. And the utter lack of Natsume Yuujinchou on this list makes me rather suspicious...

    I heavily suspect that if the fansubs for Hyouge Mono would EVER catch up, we'd see it somewhere on this list, but gah fansubbers why.

    Also inb4 Game of Thrones.

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  44. It's very hard to say where Hyouge Mono would end up. It's totally unique among anime and usually quite excellent, and I have no doubt if it were releasing weekly it would make my top 20. Would it crack the top 10? Hard to say.

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  45. Identify ourselves,huh... Fine, I was the anon who made this guess when your list was still at number 6:p
    1)Ikoku Meiro
    2)Anohana
    3)Steins Gate
    4)Hourou Musuko
    5)Usagi Drop
    There's a chance you've changed your mind since they ended, and Anohana and Steins Gate have swapped places, though I'm fairly sure Ikoku Meiro remains at first place:D My guesses at your 11th,12th and 13th series would be R-15, Un-GO and Mashifoni, in no particular order.

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  46. So that's 5+3 anime shows I don't need to watch. (: Looking forward to your top 3!

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  47. Hourou Musuko at #4. Fuck yea. It's the same for me on my list :p.

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  48. Guess my prediction was wrong and S;G didn't make it to the top 2... Still rooting for Anohana to win the top spot :)

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  49. I knew who the last three would be all along, but the hard part was ranking them.

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  50. Steins Gate at #3. Same as me haha :p

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  51. Fail, fail fail, major failure on my part... Enzo's still as mysterious and unpredictable as ever :P
    That Anon who nailed your top 5 should get a cookie

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  52. Couple of things regarding Anohana.

    Firstly, it's not the second best selling series of 2011, but the fourth. Persona 4 and Infinite Stratos are both beating Anohana atm at 33.7k and 32.5k per volume average, though Persona 4 is only at its 2nd volume atm so we'll have to see. Kinda disgusting I know, but what can you do. Quality =/= sales afterall.

    Second, I will hardly call it a subtle show. This series had tons of melodrama and had lots of its character bursting out into tears in exaggerated fashion particularly towards the second half. Though there was some subtle parts (mostly by Tsuruko x Yukiatsu conversations) they weren't exactly plentiful. Compare this to Hourou Musuko. Now Hourou Musuko, that's a subtle show.

    This however is in no way to to say Anohana was a bad show as I thought it is the best melodrama series since Clannad After Story back in 2008. I only fault the show a bit because all the crying by its characters left me desensitized but at least this show ended superbly unlike Clannad and arguably a better cast.

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  53. @Seishun Otoko: His top 5 was actually relatively easy to find out if you paid attention to his posts regarding the respective series. >_>

    In his Ikoku Meiro review post, he wrote: "now I’ve come around to thinking it might just be the best series of 2011", so Ikoku Meiro as first place was easy to figure out, considering he said that after the first three seasons had finished and how the only fall show he might have preferred over it(Chihayafuru) was ineligible for his list.

    In the summer 2011 season review, an anon guessed his top 5 would be Ikoku,Steins Gate,Anohana,Usagi Drop and Kamisama Dolls, and Enzo replied by saying that the anon only got 4 right. Since Kamisama Dolls turned out to be placed in the lower portion of the list, it is only practical to assume from here that Anohana, Steins Gate and Usagi Drop are all in the top 5 as well. Furthermore, Enzo also said in the same post that he ranked Anohana higher than Steins Gate at that point, and I guessed a little and assumed those were the top 3 after seeing how much he praised each of them in their respective reviews.

    The only series left that had any chances of being in the top 5 was Hourou Musuko, which he cited as "best series of the Winter season for [him]" and just took it to be placed higher than Usagi Drop cause it was such a strong compliment and that because he did not even consider Usagi Drop to be the best of its season(granted, a bit of a faulty argument, but meh xD).

    Yeah, I'm probably way too overanalytical for the most pointless things/:

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  54. I'm guessing either Ikoku or Natsume is going to be your 1st choice.

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  55. Watch out Enzo, looks like you've got a stalker.

    In all seriousness, his top 5 wasn't hard to predict to anyone who's been reading his posts regularly.

    I dropped T&B early on but for some reason I got the impression you liked it enough for it to earn a place in your list.

    I'm a little sad to see Mashiro-iro out of the list without even an honorable mention, though (inb4 Mashiro-iro ranking #1 twist).

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  56. ^^^ i'll b the 1st 2 admit i lost smuglord halfway in his post n had 2 reread it, lol + n damn i really wanted the 'jap girl in paris anime' 2 b in ur top 10 but i have a felling it wont b there as there is only 1 spot left *i just have the feeling* *sob*sob*

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  57. *note i dont read often ,just when i have free time, lol

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  58. Hmmmm....I think I know what your No.1 is....

    Can't wait for tommorow!

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  59. Smuglord - wow! That's some serious analysis. Should I be frightened?

    Murkel, safe to say there were a couple of pretty tough omissions. And I won't say R-15 is necessarily #11 - it was just the non top-10 show that I thought needed the help the most.

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  60. "... as if they were written specifically for my particular makeup"
    Enzo has/looking for a Japanese other half? :)

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  61. Am so glad you agree with me on Ikoku Meiro being your fave of 2011! :)

    - Flower

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  62. I suspect we're the only ones, Flower, but we're right and they're wrong!

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  63. No Natsume? Sigh...

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  64. Thaaaaaat's right! lol!

    - Flower

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  65. @Anonymous
    Didn't quite make it, but it'll definitely be in the top 20.

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  66. It's not just you and Flower Ikoku no Meiro Croisee was one of my favorites of the year too and I am glad to see it get so much love here.

    Admittedly in my own ranking I put Mawaru Peguindrum at no 1 but that is because for me that anime was an experience.

    If I am being less biased from a personal standpoint I actually think Ikoku no Meiro Croisee was the stronger series. It might not be risky but it definitely exceeded my expectations.

    But anyways Happy New Years! I enjoyed your countdown.

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  67. Thanks, Kim! Look forward to a couple more year-end wrap ups in the next few days.

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  68. Longtime lurker here. Thanks for your coverage this year, Enzo. :D I didn't always agree with you, but I always loved reading your opinion.

    I enjoyed reading this list, too, though the only surprise is that Penguindrum is so high (I didn't think it would make it at all, come to think of it), and that Natsume isn't on here. Well, at least there's next year for that one. ;) Love your writing on Ikoku Meiro no Croisee--it's not my favorite, but it's always nice to read a perspective from someone passionate about a series.

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  69. So you're not covering Natsume S4 Enzo? I saw the Winter Schedule over at RC. That sucks, but i'm glad that you're still able to blog at both sites without a drop in writing quality or insightful commentary.

    You've sorta inspired me to take on episodic blogging and i wasn't sure what to blog next season but now i'm set on Natsume at the very least. Keep up the good work!

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  70. Well then, I'm glad you all forgot I too fell in love with at Ikoku :P

    And yes, everyone who doesn't this little gem of a seres is clearly in the wrong!

    And ... HA, Blood-C ... let me tell you, not other show this year (or the last one for that matter) had me laughing harder than this one ... and there was PLENTY of hilarious shows these past two years! On that, Blood-C wins the Most Unintentionally Hilarious TV series of the year, no. doubt.

    I was waiting till you revealed all the 10 choices before I comment, though I managed to guess the top 6 easily (just not in the right order, I thought you'd put Usagi Drop much higher and Anohana a bit lower) I'm a bit surprised that you didn't include Tiger & Bunny somewhere, then again this was a rather strong year so ...

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  71. @Renn: Thanks for lurking, and thanks for posting! MPD was a love/hate, but I respect it greatly. As for Natsume, well, S3 was slightly less superb for me, but still great, just read on...

    @webkid: I can't manage 2 RC series on the same day, and I really want to cover Another for both sites this season. I do plan to blog Natsume here and I hope you'll follow it.

    @Arabesque: I didn't forget, but I didn't think it'd be #1!

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  72. i drop Ikoku Meiro no Croisee at ep 7

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  73. I would be happy with Ikoku Meiro, Ano Hana, or Usagi Drop as the best anime of the year. All 3 series really were a cut above everything else.

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  74. Time for me give Ikoku another try since it's your favourite of the year. I'm actually surprised cause I was totally expecting Anohana.

    Then again I was expecting pgsels' favourite of the year to be Penguindrum but it was Anohana. So many twists amongst people's blogs this year!

    @Karmafan: Depends what genre preferences you possess. If it's slice of life or drama, then sure. But if you wanted something more with content and thrill then either Steins Gate or Madoka. Or if you wanted something just totally unique and different, Mawaru Penguindrum.

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  75. I liked Steins Gate and Madoka as well. But both of those shows were kinda uneven with some episodes great and some not quite so great. The decapitation out of no where in episode 3 is what really made folks stand up and take interest in Madoka.

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